A man who was 24 years old when he was having a consensual sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl has been jailed for eight months after serving 18 months in prison on remand.
The girl told gardaí, as she refused to give a victim impact statement, that the main effect on her was she could no longer see the man. Her family had asked for the charges to be withdrawn.
The now 26-year-old man pleaded guilty to a sexual act with a child under the age of 15 at a Dublin address between dates in 2008. He has no previous convictions.
Judge Martin Nolan said the 18 months the man has served in custody to date was, taking into account remission, equivalent to a 22-month-sentence and he imposed a further eight months from today’s date.
He said that the legislation takes a view that “sex with children has a serious and deleterious effect on the child” and had been enacted to protect children from third parties and from themselves.
Judge Nolan said the girl’s family and the accused knew what had happened was wrong but considered it “not that very wrong”.
Garda Karen McCloat told Mr Shane Costelloe BL, prosecuting, that the girl had been reported as missing by her mother and garda ascertained that she had been seen in the company of the accused.
Gardaí attended at his home and found him and the girl there. The girl said she had been living with the man for about a month and considered him to be her boyfriend. She accepted she had sex with him.
The accused man told gardaí he was aware of her age and knew what he was doing was wrong.
Gda McCloat agreed with Ms Anne Maire Lawlor BL, defending, that the girl had been told by her father if she wanted to live with the man “off you go”.
She agreed the girl wanted to live with the man, was not being “preyed upon”, and believed herself to be in love.
Gda McCloat told Judge Nolan that the girl’s parents had not reported her missing immediately and they had hoped she would come back by herself.
Ms Lawlor said this was a very unusual case which could not have proceeded without the accused man’s admissions as the girl had indicated she would not be a trial witness.
She handed in a letter to Judge Nolan from the girl’s mother asking that the charges be withdrawn and saying she did not believe her daughter to be kidnapped and did not wish the accused to get into trouble.
Ms Lawlor submitted that what had occurred was “a consensual relationship albeit an illegal one and he is now facing the consequences”.